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I've worked with organisations that would get together for cocktails on Fridays after work. The staff has the chance to mingle with their coworkers and those from different departments. Senior management can also meet and converse with employees they don't frequently interact with.

However, I've seen bosses go too far with this, even becoming drunk in front of less experienced workers, earning no more respect from their team.

All employees appreciate common decency. One of the firm owners I worked with entered the office without bothering to say hello to the senior managers who were seated at their workstations. In addition to simply saying hello to the workers, it's occasionally polite to stop by their desk and ask what they are working on and if there are any issues.


Having a year-end event with my team and their partners was beneficial to me. Although not everyone attended the events, those who did had a good time. It specifically offered the partners an opportunity to network with other spouses and learn that their partner wasn't the only one who worked long hours or away from home. The partner also had the chance to learn more about the business and get the most recent information.

Additionally, we made an effort to plan an event or weekend getaway with top managers and their spouses once a year. We made an effort to make this a memorable event and something they probably wouldn't have done on their own. These consistently functioned effectively and provided the organisation with far more value than their direct cost.

Individuals shouldn't be forced to attend these events since some people may not want to.

Declare success!

Usually, winning a tender requires a lot of effort and likely occurs after losing a number of other bids. In order to congratulate the estimating team and wish the project team success, it is helpful to celebrate the awarding of major new projects.

It is frequently beneficial to hold a gathering on site when a project nears its successful end so that project personnel and Head Office support staff may be recognised. Additionally, it provides a chance for staff from the head office to visit the project and learn more about the job the business is doing.

Since there are frequently issues in the construction industry, it is important to accept and celebrate any significant successes. Everyone wants to be a member of a winning team because success is motivating, contagious, and exciting. This makes everyone feel that they are a part of a successful team.

Celebrations must, of course, be appropriate, potentially confined to some of the more significant victories and even limited to those who were most directly impacted by the triumph. A really significant victory can need a celebration. Some successes may only call for an email of congratulations to the entire workforce, while others may call for a quick drink after work.

working with people

Taking on new employees may be expensive. These expenses comprise: 1. the price of hiring, including advertising and agency expenses

2. time spent reading through applications and speaking with candidates 3. the period of introduction and training for the new recruit

4. the supply of computers, phones, and personal protective equipment

5. the compensation received by an individual during their unproductive periods of system and process training and inductions

6. clinical evaluations

7. termination if the employee turns out to be inappropriate or is no longer needed

As a result, it's critical that recruitment be done correctly and that the following take place:

1. be sure there is a requirement to fill a position in the medium to long term.

2. Verify that there aren't any eligible applicants now employed by the organisation (as well as in other divisions) or someone who will become available soon.

3. determine if a present employee can receive the necessary training to take the job

4. Decide what the individual would be expected to do as well as the experience, education, and skills needed for the role.

5. Select the appropriate pay scale.

6. Advertise the position by asking staff members if they know of a qualified applicant, placing newspaper ads, or using a recruitment agency to discover qualified individuals.

7. Examine the curriculum vitae of candidates to see if they possess the necessary education and experience.

8. At least one manager, ideally the one they will report to, and, if feasible, an expert in labour relations, should interview qualified individuals.

9. as part of the interview:

1. It is important to describe the job description and position. Discussions on the terms of employment are necessary.

3. By posing pertinent questions, determine the candidate's expertise and experience.

4. determine the motivations behind their application for the job

5. Attempt to comprehend their goals and determine whether they are compatible with what the business can provide.

6. to assess their communication abilities

7. find out what they want to earn

8. determine whether their personality will mesh well with the business.

9. Ask for more references if necessary 10. Inquire of the applicant any queries they may have.

11. Verify the candidate's availability and any upcoming commitments or plans they may have that might affect their job.

In rare circumstances, it could be necessary to schedule a second interview with job candidates. It's crucial that candidates who are rejected are informed as quickly as possible so they can submit new applications.

Good candidates may receive many job offers concurrently. In this situation, there is always a chance that the several firms may engage in a salary bidding war, with each proposing a higher wage than the other. Always make sure the suggested wage is market-related and viable for the business in these situations. As was already said, it's critical to emphasise to the candidate the additional advantages of working for the organisation. Maybe the prospect wasn't the right fit for your organisation if they merely joined another firm for a greater income.

Period of Probation

All new hires should go through a probationary period. Before the conclusion of this time period, the employee's performance must be assessed to make sure it meets business requirements. If it doesn't, they should be summoned into a meeting, told why their performance is lacking, and given the option of having their employment terminated or having their probation period extended so they have more time to improve. It is important to record this meeting. The employee's performance should be assessed after the conclusion of the amended probationary period, and if it is still unacceptable, their job should be terminated.

Unfortunately, when the probationary period isn't managed appropriately, low-quality employees continue to work for the firm, adding to costs until their employment is finally terminated.

It is typically feasible to request the recruiting agency to provide another candidate without charge or to refund their placement fee if the individual was hired through a recruitment agency and their job is terminated within their probationary period.

Grants and on-the-job training

Offering bursaries to college and university students is a practical strategy for attracting young, talented candidates. In order to guarantee that applicants will succeed in their studies and ultimately be suitable and a good match for the organisation, candidates must be carefully chosen. Be ready to provide more bursaries than you need to fill the roles because there will always be some successes and failures in the process.

Many college and university courses demand that students work for a period of time at a business in their field of study in order to gain real-world experience. Because they couldn't locate a business to provide them with the necessary experience, several students were unable to finish their studies, as I have seen firsthand. This is unfair to the kids and a poor reflection on the industry.

Since: 1. I've frequently had success with these pupils. They are relatively inexpensive to hire.

2. It provides the business a chance to learn about the students' personalities and talents to decide whether to offer them long-term employment once they graduate.

3. On the project, many were helpful.

4. If they were offered long-term work, it would be possible for the students to determine if they would fit in with the organisation.

5. Many students welcome the chance to work and go on to develop into devoted employees.

However, it's crucial that pupils receive more than simply dull, routine assignments. They must be given the chance to learn new things, and staff members must be urged to assist them and impart their expertise.

It might be challenging to recruit students for short-term projects, especially those that are located in distant areas or need extensive access procedures.

contract workers

In order to fill temporary shortages, it is occasionally viable to hire workers on a contract basis for brief periods of time.

The following benefits of hiring contract employees:

1. they might be used for a little time to address particular issues 2. If they are inappropriate, they are typically simple to change.

3. When their services are no longer needed, they often don't need to be notified 4. You can acquire abilities that the contractor wouldn't often use.

There are drawbacks:

1. They often cost more.

2. They frequently work for companies that charge the employee's wage plus their overhead and profits.

3. They have little loyalty to the firm because they don't have any. Many people do not share the company's ideals.

5. Since they are frequently paid by the hour, they could be willing to prolong a work in order to increase their salary.

6. When management forgets a worker is on a contract, they may keep them on for several years at a cost to the company.

7. It is important to ensure that the hours worked match those on the invoice.

Although there is a role for contract workers, I wouldn't advise a business to utilise them on a consistent, long-term basis. I would always make an effort to place permanent workers in the key jobs, especially those that required them to interact directly with clients.

retaining employees long-term or only temporarily

Workers may be hired permanently or only temporarily to complete a certain activity or project. In certain nations, hiring a labour broker who would provide the workers for whatever long they are needed is also an option.

The following benefits come from using contract employees for a certain project:

1. When their particular talent is no longer needed, they may lose their job.

2. It's frequently possible to hire locals while relocating, which eliminates the need to transport and accommodate personnel from other locations.

3. Sometimes when permanent employees are relocated to a different area, they anticipate receiving greater compensation.

4. Local employees may earn less than their colleagues from other places since salaries frequently fluctuate between regions.

5. The contractor is not required to maintain a sizable pool of resources in use.

Employing personnel on a contract has the following drawbacks: They might not be very devoted to the business.

2. Typically, they aren't familiar with the business's practises.

3. They won't have been tested, therefore it can take a few weeks to determine their degree of proficiency.

4. They won't be acquainted with the organization's quality and safety requirements.

5. The business will invest time and energy in training individuals who will only have temporary employment.

6. The business can have trouble locating qualified candidates when they're needed.

The best course of action is probably to hire a few talented tradesmen on a permanent basis and move them from project to project so that they form the backbone of the team on the next project. After then, additional staff might be hired locally or from other places.

policies relating to labour relations

Employer and employee responsibilities are outlined in industrial relations policies. A clear industrial relations policy for the firm should contain some or all of the following:

1. 2. introductions hours of labour

3. safety measures

4. Discipline techniques 5. complaint processes

6. policy against discrimination

All workers must understand these policies, and management and supervisors must execute them consistently and fairly.

Companies frequently experience issues with labour relations when policies are not effectively implemented, and in other circumstances, they are outright ignored.

These rules must be in place to operate in various nations and states.

Employment agreements

An employment contract should be provided to every employee. The agreement ought to state:

1. their anticipated employment responsibilities 2. where you work

3. when it first started 3. its compensation

5. allowances that apply 6. their working hours

7. Notice of termination required from both parties 8. causes of termination

9. the length of the job 10. entitlements to depart

11. probationary period and notification of termination within this time 12. general employment conditions

13. working conditions

14. usage of tools and assets owned by the business 15. definitions

Care must be made to guarantee that working conditions and pay for equivalent worker grades are comparable. The terms must also be in accordance with current labour and union agreements as well as the law.

Personnel may occasionally be moved to projects with differing guidelines and requirements. Employees should get a secondment contract with these updated terms in these circumstances. However, the secondment contract shouldn't include terms that are less favourable than the person's fundamental work conditions. Employees should get a new secondment contract for a new project when the project is finished, or they should receive a letter saying that their job terms have returned to those from their first employment contract.

All employment and secondment contracts must be signed by employees, and they and the employer should each have a copy.

Agreements between the shop floor and the union

The business must make sure that laws controlling fundamental work conditions are applied and followed in all areas and nations. Additionally, employees may be members of a union, in which case it is often essential for the business to have a contract with the union that sets up the terms of employment for the workers. It's crucial to confirm that a union is legitimate and that the employees are represented while working with one. Sometimes, as a result of employee union membership diversity, the corporation must negotiate with many unions.

When a union has enough employees represented (about 50%), they will contact the business to negotiate employment terms. Some of these can significantly increase prices for the business and reduce its ability to compete, especially when bidding against contractors in other regions or who do not have union contracts. While maintaining worker harmony, the contractor must negotiate conditions that are fair and reasonable to their employees, without compromising the company's competitiveness or profitability.

The business should make every effort to establish these contracts for terms of at least two years, ideally longer. Nobody likes to go through these conversations every year since they often require a lot of management time. Long-term contracts also provide the business assurance regarding the rates to be included in their tenders.

It is occasionally feasible and profitable to sign a shop-floor agreement with the employees if they are not represented by a union. Workers choose competent employee representatives to represent them in negotiations. A legally enforceable agreement that all parties may sign should be drafted by an industrial relations attorney when the talks are over. This document frequently needs to be registered with the appropriate government agency.

Always seek professional advice and help when dealing with union leaders or employee representatives. Agreements that are poorly drafted or written may end up costing the business money.

many nationalities and cultures

People working in the construction sector typically come from a variety of cultures, backgrounds, and nationalities. They also have varying work ethics and communication styles. When talking with and leading employees, managers need to be aware of these distinctions and take them into consideration. Frequently, little miscommunications brought on by these discrepancies can turn into large workplace disputes, discord, and productivity losses.

Understanding other cultures may help you modify how you interact and communicate with individuals to better fit their backgrounds, which can sometimes increase their performance and productivity at work. What is significant to one culture may not be significant to another culture at all. What one person finds funny could be hurtful to someone from a different culture.


It's critical to avoid discrimination and to be conscious of the fact that many individuals might be delicate and easily offended by what they perceive to be discriminating. They may even purposefully take something out of context and manipulate it so that it looks to be prejudiced in order to stir up a controversy. Work stoppages or expensive legal battles may result from discrimination.

Discrimination can be personal, racial, or of several kinds. The business ought to have explicit anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies.

When sexual harassment or discrimination is observed or reported, policies and measures should be put in place.

Native Americans and locals

The employment of indigenous or local people is strongly promoted in many nations and areas, and in some situations, it is even regulated by law. Management must make sure that hiring indigenous and local people is actively promoted and that these workers are kept on a project for as long as feasible if they are qualified for the jobs held. Native Americans who have been hired should be handled by personnel who are aware of the need to keep them and who know how to lead, train, and develop them so they may become productive workers.


The business owner I worked for continuously taking on more and more responsibilities, which left many jobs unfinished and angered both clients and personnel.

It's crucial to have the ability to assign individuals to carry out certain duties and actions. However, when doing so, be careful to:

1. that the individual is competent to complete the duty

2. the individual is qualified for the position (you shouldn't send a junior engineer to an important customer meeting on their own, for example).

3. They are aware of the demands.

4. They have all the necessary knowledge and tools to do the assignment.

5. Spend time teaching them if they lack the necessary skills or information, or ask someone else to do it.

6. follow-up to make sure the assignment is completed properly

If people aren't taught how to do a job and aren't given greater and bigger responsibilities, they won't mature and develop.

Observe and Control

Due to improper management and supervision, many firms fail, which leads to:

1. personnel putting in inadequate work

2. persons not doing activities as intended or performing them poorly 3. tasks not being completed since they aren't assigned to someone 4. employees not collaborating toward a shared goal as a team

5. Due to the absence of direction and order, staff are becoming discouraged and dissatisfied.

Therefore, it's crucial that managers not only oversee those who report to them but also make sure that they oversee the teams they are responsible for.

dedication and discipline

Poor employee performance, discipline, or dedication are unacceptable since they reduce production. Every project must begin with discipline that is applied consistently and consistently throughout all undertakings. When employees are transferred from one project where the corporate rules weren't properly enforced to another where the project manager enforces the rules, issues frequently arise. The guidelines are different from their last project, which the employees don't grasp.

Correct use of disciplinary measures is critical:

1. even when verbal warnings are given, the procedure must be documented in writing.

2. The proper amount of notice for formal disciplinary proceedings must be given to employees.

3. The issue or violation must be explained carefully, and if necessary, a translator may be required.

4. Depending on the worker agreements and laws, the employee may bring legal representation to a meeting.

5. The employee often has the option to challenge the hearing's results.

6. The employee's record folder must contain copies of the notifications and process documentation, and it must also contain originals.

7. Discipline needs to be applied objectively.

Unfortunately, some businesses lack consistency in how they administer discipline, allowing some employees particularly critical employees to avoid punishment, making it challenging to correctly apply discipline to other employees.

inadequate work performance

It's crucial to comprehend the causes of low performance, which may include:

1. the person who is inexperienced or uninformed 2. a failure to comprehend the directions 3. bad oversight

4. People not being used properly 5. poor spirit

6. Staff not knowing what is expected of them 7. the worker's unwillingness to complete their duties correctly

Once the issue has been located, the worker should: 1. counselled

2. if required, redeployed

3. If the employee's performance doesn't improve, the appropriate disciplinary action should be taken, and if required, their job should be terminated.

Many businesses move underperforming workers from one project to another without taking the necessary steps to raise their performance. Poor productivity and frustration among the supervisory personnel and other employees who must work with them are the repercussions of this. It is harder to terminate an employee's job the longer they work for the organisation.

Set an example.

Some business owners and managers impose regulations that they don't adhere to themselves. I've always been aware of how watchful my staff genuinely is. They always appear to be aware when supervisors take a protracted lunch break, are tardy, or are inebriated when they get to work. When chastised for this behaviour, they are quick to point out that they previously committed similar offences but weren't penalised, so they see no reason why they shouldn't do the same if they believe this to be appropriate behaviour. When employees claim they are being treated unfairly because management has one set of regulations and employees have another, it becomes challenging to enforce punishment correctly.


The majority of workers won't be able to identify where they're making mistakes until they receive input from management on what they believe to be their shortcomings or areas that need improvement. In fact, many will probably think they're accomplishing their goals.

Both positive and negative comments are significant.

Negative criticism must be delivered constructively, outlining actions the employee must do to enhance their performance.

The formal, recorded conduct of yearly or biannual performance evaluations is an excellent practise.

Recognize and comprehend the group

I've had a lot of success because I was able to work with people I'd known for a long time, getting to know their strengths and flaws. In actuality, the few initiatives that didn't turn out well frequently featured new personnel whose skills I wasn't really familiar with.

Understanding their advantages and disadvantages allowed me to: 1. utilise and capitalise on their abilities

2. assigning personnel with the appropriate skills, expertise, and experience to a project

3. encourage their flaws

4. assemble balanced teams for cooperative tasks.

5. so that they eventually overcame their weaknesses, mentor and coach them.

6. Individuals who were capable of performing the role should be promoted to new positions.

It's crucial that employees stick around the company for a long time and that managers are able to mentor and coach them during that time in order to fully understand their abilities.

Hiring and letting go

Some businesses frequently hire people before firing them due to:

1. Their planning is inadequate, and they hire too many people or those with the incorrect skills.

2. They're hiring the wrong people.

3. Without first determining whether they are needed elsewhere in the company, they are letting go of employees.

4. Instead of spending time counselling or training employees, they dismiss them as soon as it seems they might not be the right fit.

5. They transition from having too much work to having too little work.

The following are some issues with the hiring and firing mentality: As was already mentioned, hiring people is expensive.

2. There is no loyalty or consistency among the workforce

3. Employee morale is low, and they are unsure of when they will be let go next.

4. The business gains a reputation for not hiring individuals for long-term positions.

Labor squabbles

It is preferable to resolve labour issues before they develop into a dispute. Any issue, no matter how small, left unresolved has the potential to grow into a full-fledged labour dispute that affects the entire project team. However, this does not imply that you should comply with irrational demands from the workforce. Instead, consideration should be given to treating the workforce fairly within the confines of the workplace's structure and project agreements. When employees are given requests beyond what they are entitled to, they frequently come up with new demands.

Sadly, most businesses will eventually experience a labour dispute that turns into strike action. Management must be aware of the steps to take in the event of a strike, which may include:

1. notifying the human resources department and senior management of the company

2. letting the client know

3. ensuring that no workers are endangered

4. ensuring that the equipment and property are secure 5. safely ending operations and systems

6. understanding the issues by meeting with worker representatives 7. resolving problems if they are straightforward

8. encouraging employees to report back to work while their complaints are being addressed

9. making sure that procedures are adhered to (these may depend on whether the strike is legal or not as well as on the labour agreements and legislation)

10. Notifying the police if there is a risk to life or property 11. keeping the staff composed

12. avoiding making divisive remarks or provoking the workforce

13. If employees are unionised, get in touch with union leaders and ask for help resolving the problems.

14. ensuring that only authorised company representatives speak with the media

15. letting management know as soon as employees return to work, as well as the client and police

16. promptly resolving any unresolved complaints and informing the workers' representatives of the development


1. Finding the right employees is essential to a business' success. 2. It's important to keep good employees, which can be done by:

1. paying them a wage that reflects the market

2. providing bonuses and share plans as incentives 3. enabling them to feel like employees

4. locating additional rewards that are significant to the person 5. granting adequate leave

3. Employees ought to be inspired and enthusiastic about their jobs and the business.

4. Promotions must be given to employees for the proper causes.

5. Employee motivation is increased by mentoring and training, which also helps the business build a more skilled workforce.

6. It can be beneficial to invite employees' partners to work events.

7. Celebrating success gives other employees a sense of belonging to a winning team and provides a chance to thank those who made it possible.

8. Care must be taken during the hiring process to ensure that the prospective employee possesses the necessary qualities and is fully aware of the nature of the business and the position they will be filling.

9. It's important to manage probationary periods properly to make sure new hires are qualified; if they aren't, they should receive counselling so they can either improve or are fired from the company.

10. Bursaries and in-service training for students are helpful methods of luring new employees, and they also benefit the industry.

11. Companies typically have the choice of hiring employees permanently or just temporarily. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice.

12. Industrial relations policies and procedures should be available to and understood by all employees in every company.

13. Every employee should have a current employment contract, which may occasionally be modified if an employee is transferred to a project with better terms than those outlined in their contract.

14. Working conditions may need to be negotiated by employers and unions or employee representatives.

15. Managers should be aware of the cultural backgrounds of the staff members they supervise in order to interact with them effectively.

16. Any form of discrimination should not be accepted.

17. Indigenous and local workers should be encouraged to find employment. 18. Managers need to be capable of delegation.

19. Employees must be properly managed and overseen in order for them to carry out their tasks as intended.

20. In all facets of the business, discipline must be applied fairly, appropriately, consistently, and in accordance with the company's policies.

21. Poor employee performance shouldn't be accepted, and it's critical that corrective action be taken.

22. Managers must set the bar high.

23. Regular feedback on employees' performance is required.

24. It is frequently possible to place employees in roles best suited to their skills and offer support to those who need it by understanding their strengths and weaknesses.

25. Employers should refrain from frequently hiring and firing employees. 26. Labor disputes must be handled sensibly and carefully.

Module 11: Running the Business

Many owners and managers of construction firms have solid contracting expertise, but they often lack management skills. It takes people skills to manage a business, including the ability to hire qualified staff, manage and direct them, and deal with clients, designers, bankers, suppliers, subcontractors, and members of the public. It also requires knowledge of financial, legal, and tax systems, as well as an understanding of environmental, safety, and labour legislation.

Generally speaking, businesses must abide by a vast array of laws and rules. I won't go into detail about the legal and tax requirements for operating a business because it's best to seek professional advice as they differ from state to state, between countries, and frequently change.

Conditions to manage

It's not simple to run a construction business or division. An individual must:

1. display initiative

2. be able to interact with various types of people, including those with different education levels, cultures, and ethnicities.

3. the capacity to make difficult choices

4. be enthusiastic about their work and the business. be able to share ideas and work together

6. to be able to speak

7. possess the esteem of their staff

8. Pay attention to employee input and suggestions 9. good attention to detail

10. 11. absorb stress be flexible

12. to be able to assign 13. operate as a team

14. be able to handle multiple issues and tasks nearly simultaneously 15. possess situational awareness to recognise potential issues 16. possess in-depth technical understanding of the field

17. possess knowledge of the industry in which they operate.

18. ensure that you are familiar with the systems, practises, and policies of the company.

19. possess an idea for the company's future

To run a construction company, you must be able to quickly implement a contingency plan and anticipate the unexpected.

Rule of the open door

Employees should feel free to discuss issues with managers because managers should operate under an open door policy. Employees must understand that they cannot interrupt meetings or phone calls and that managers occasionally need some quiet time to attend to issues and respond to correspondence. Obviously, this must be done within reasonable limits. Additionally, it does not imply that staff members should approach a senior manager about their issues instead of their direct managers.

Making sure the office is appropriate for one-on-one meetings or even meetings with two or three people is part of the open door policy.

Instance study

I once knew a businessman who worked out of a tiny room with a desk and two chairs. Any meeting in his office would end awkwardly with him and I seated with our knees touching, facing each other. Without a doubt, with three of us there, it would have been even more crowded with three pairs of knees touching. I believe the original plan was probably to have a meeting, but this wasn't really conducive to that.

Additionally, senior managers should have an office with a door so that private conversations with clients or staff members aren't overheard. I am aware that many people disagree with me and support open-plan offices.


Numerous managers I've observed have demanded lengthy and in-depth reports. A monthly report from one of the companies I worked for was over a hundred pages long. Was this successful? Absolutely not! It took a number of people several days to put together, time that could have been better spent earning money on the project. When the report becomes so lengthy, and takes so much time and effort to put together, the quality of the information in the report is often questionable since in the rush Project Managers insert any information, and even just make it up, so they can complete the report. Of course the question is, who actually reads the contents, and more importantly who deals with items which should be actioned? In most cases a substantial portion isn’t read and the time and effort spent on compiling the report is wasted.

I was fortunate to work for a company that produced a simple three page monthly financial report which was just as effective.


Meetings can be a big time waster. Some companies have weekly or fortnightly meetings. Many of these can be several hours long. Some meetings are worthless when important participants aren’t present.

1. Meetings should be set for a fixed date and time as far in advance as possible.

2. They shouldn’t be rescheduled unless there’s absolutely no alternative. I’ve frequently had managers reschedule meetings at the last minute, inconveniencing other participants who then have to reschedule their calendars at short notice. Often some attendees are unavailable for the new time. I found that once a regular meeting is rescheduled it’s easy for it to become a habit to keep rescheduling it, and eventually the meeting loses its importance.

3. Meetings should run to an agenda.

4. Meetings should be minuted and the minutes should be circulated within a few days of the meeting.

5. The minutes should allocate responsibilities for actioning items and a time for them to happen.

6. The chairperson needs to exercise control to keep discussions to the point, focussed and relevant to the topic.

7. Meetings should be scheduled for a time that’s suitable for most participants taking into account the location of the participants and their current projects.

8. Participants should arrive on time. I cannot count how many hours I’ve wasted waiting for meetings to start because they’ve been delayed by tardy participants.

9. If someone is unable to attend they should excuse themselves beforehand so the meeting isn’t held up waiting for them.

10. Attendees should be restricted to those who can contribute to the meeting or who will benefit from attending.

11. It may be necessary to review attendees, the agenda and the schedule from time to time to maximise the benefit of the meeting.

I’ve found that many items discussed in meetings could have been discussed on a one-on-one basis with the particular individual, thus avoiding wasting time in the meeting.

completing tasks

Managers and business owners typically have hectic schedules, making it challenging at times to attend to everything that needs their attention. Unfortunately, certain activities must be completed since failing to do so may cause clients to get irate or cause payments to be missed or tenders to be filed late. Functions and responsibilities may need to be assigned to qualified people where feasible to reduce these demands. Additionally, managers might need to plan their jobs so that they coincide with the crucial tasks that must be completed on a regular basis.

Say no more often.

Successful business management requires the ability to say "no." Of course, this should be done with courtesy and, if at all possible, a good reason. As was said, some clients can be quite persistent that you take on their projects even if they may not be practical, too dangerous for the business, or the business may not have the necessary resources. Although clients would be disappointed if the contractor rejects their idea, they will be much more dissatisfied if the project is badly carried out.

Employees may be demanding as well, and it's frequently simpler to say "yes" when someone requests leave, a favour, or special consideration. Giving in to these expectations often doesn't cause an issue in smaller businesses, but as the business expands, giving in to these demands may cause problems as more employees seek the same treatment.

The skills of negotiation, persuasion, and communication

Every day, managers need to communicate, persuade, and bargain. Frequently, how they go about doing this will depend on who they are working with and the circumstances. The typical interactions between management and employees, staff, subcontractors, suppliers, clients, clients' team (including designers, project managers, and architects), local authorities, and the general public are as follows.

In order to obtain the best results for the organisation, communication should be: 1. courteous; 2. clear; 3. assertive enough to guarantee that orders are followed; 4. persuasive; 5. effective; 6. mindful of relationships; 7. mindful of the other person's level of comprehension. 8. Avoid being patronising

Effective communication is essential to the business's success. It should be taken into consideration for senior staff to attend courses that can raise the standard of written and spoken communication.

Giving and receiving instructions is only one aspect of communication; another is keeping all parties informed, including personnel, subcontractors, suppliers, client representatives, the client, and neighbours. Depending on the situation and the degree of the parties involved, different levels and amounts of communication will be used. Often, verbal communication works best, whether it be in meetings, one-on-one conversations, or over the phone. Letters or memos may be used for communication; they may be sent to specific people; they may be distributed to all relevant parties; or they may be posted on project notice boards.

It is important to consider the form of communication while sending out letters, emails, memos, and verbal conversations. Inappropriate communications may affect a firm, a person, or one's reputation irreparably. Frequently, hastily uttered or written words are regretted for a long time after the fact.

The communication protocol must be understood by every employee, and communications must be handled properly. The appropriate management should evaluate any correspondence that is of a contractual type or correspondence that involves a financial problem.

Fight for your group!

When the client is incorrect and the manager was only defending the contractor's rights, many managers fail to stand up for their employees, frequently enabling clients to harass them and even removing personnel from projects.

Whenever my employees were in the right, I sought to defend them and occasionally succeeded in persuading the customer to keep the employee on the project. Naturally, you should constantly look into the situation to make sure your employee is correct. After all, I have occasionally fallen for employee lies, and if I had believed them, I would have been in error.

Making choices

Daily choices that impact the company's operations as well as specific projects and tenders must be made by managers. Numerous of these choices may have a big effect on the business's finances, people's livelihoods, and sometimes even their lives.

Important decisions should be taken after careful consideration of all the relevant facts and for the right reasons.

4. are timely made

A delayed or non-decision can frequently be more destructive than one that is taken hastily. Procrastination has no place in the building industry since it may be expensive. Clients and employees depend on managers to act quickly and wisely.

Putting information in order and looking at it

Managers often have a lot of information to sort through because they are in charge of a lot of different projects and have other jobs to do. It can be hard to figure out what the most important issues are, how accurate they are, what they mean, and what to do about them. Many managers don't realise until it's too late that a project is in serious trouble.

Reporting systems should be simple and easy to read, with the most important information easy to spot. Having regular one-on-one meetings with staff or visiting projects and making sure the right questions are asked is, of course, the best way to do things.

By giving some tasks to the right people, the amount of information that needs to be reviewed and evaluated can be cut down.

It's also important that subordinates know what information they need to give to their manager and that their manager is always willing to help, give advice, and answer any questions or concerns they may have.

structure of the organisation and reporting lines

Except for small companies with only a few employees, all construction companies should have a formal structure so that employees know what their jobs are, how much power they have, who reports to them, and who they report to.

As the company grows, this structure will need to be changed.

The structure doesn't have to be shared with everyone in the company, but in a large company, it's helpful for everyone to know about the different departments and divisions so they know who to ask for help or information.

Costs for a business

I've talked about how to make projects more profitable by putting in controls and managing resources, but it's just as important to run the corporate office well. Many construction companies have trouble making money because their Head Office costs a lot to run. When a company grows, it often moves to a newer, fancier office building in a better area. Most of the time, the rents for these types of housing are high. Don't get me wrong, it is important to work from offices that make a good impression on clients and are comfortable for employees to work in, but they don't have to be opulent or extravagant in terms of their facilities or location.

When choosing offices, growth should be taken into account. This doesn't mean you should rent or buy a big office space for a few employees, but it is helpful to have a few extra offices that can be used when the company hires new people. When a business doesn't have enough space, it has to move every few years or work from several different places, which can be inconvenient and expensive.

When there are too many people in the Head Office, it costs a lot more money. Small and medium-sized businesses may have to hire people who are willing to do more than one thing, since they can't hire one person for each job.

It's also important to have enough controls in place to cut down on wasteful or unnecessary spending. Controls could be put in place for things like how much electricity is used, printing and stationery, snacks, phone use, company credit cards, and travel costs. Obviously, it's important that the controls don't become too tight and slow down work.

As with the projects, senior managers should look over all expenses and agree to them. The Head Office must have the same kinds of controls as the projects to make sure that employees are productive, are managed well so that they can reach their full potential, are properly trained for their jobs, fill out the right forms when they need to take time off, and fill out their time sheets correctly.


When a business first starts up, the owner is often the manager, the financial officer, the clerk, the bookkeeper, the Project Manager, the Supervisor, and the Estimator. As the business grows and gets bigger, the owner can't do everything anymore, so he or she hires people to do these things. As the business grows, there isn't just one bookkeeper, clerk, or Estimator. Instead, there are several people hired to do these jobs. The owner can't handle all the different parts of the business anymore, so he or she has to hire managers to do this. These managers answer to the owner, CEO, or managing director of the company.

Eventually the company becomes organised into different departments with different responsibilities and managers. As the company grows, some of these departments may need to be reorganised, and some of their tasks may be moved to other departments or made into new departments.

For the company to be successful, all of these departments need to work as a single unit. Each department has to support the other departments and the projects.

Departments shouldn't be made just to please someone's ego or to copy structures from other companies. Instead, they should be made when they're needed and will help the organisation provide better service.

People who want to build big departments to show how important they are need to be kept in check by companies. Each department should make an annual budget for spending that they have to justify and then stick to for the whole year.

Divisions \sAlso as companies grow they may form different divisions. These divisions are usually organised around a particular function or trade. Many building companies have divisions for building, roads, and civil work. Sometimes the focus of a division is on a certain region or country.

The purpose of creating divisions is so that: \s1. when the company grows, and one manager can’t look after all the projects, the company is split into different divisions and the workload is shares between a number of managers

2. when staff have knowledge or expertise in a specific field of construction it’s appropriate that they are employed by a division that can effectively use these attributes (for instance a building Supervisor is best suited to doing building projects) (for instance a building Supervisor is best suited to doing building projects)

3. clients know that they are dealing with a company or division that can deliver the type of work that their project demands

4. In areas and types of construction work where working conditions and pay rates vary, it is possible to divide employees into different divisions where they can have different employment contracts than others in the company.

5. When different kinds of construction have different rules, the project is given to the division that has worked in those conditions before (for instance constructing a building in an oil and gas plant is very different to constructing one in the city, and those unfamiliar with the rules in an oil and gas facility could end up pricing the tender incorrectly and will probably make numerous mistakes during construction)

Case Study: The civil division of our company built a lot of projects for the mining and resources industries. However, once when the division was awarded the construction of a new coal process facility they didn’t have the resources to undertake the project, so the company’s building division elected to take on the project. Unfortunately, they had problems right away. They weren't used to the strict safety rules and quality documentation that this kind of project required. They were also surprised by how long it took for resources to go through the process of being trained and get to the site.

Also, their workers didn't like having to live away from home, which is what most civil projects require.

Staff quickly lost faith in the company, and morale was low, which hurt productivity.

Management made excuses for the project by saying that the client was very hard to work with. In reality, they weren't any harder to work with than most clients in that field. The building division staff just wasn't used to working in these conditions.

On the other hand, if the civil division was asked to build an apartment building in the city, they probably wouldn't have done as well as the building division because they weren't used to doing that kind of work.

Sharing between divisions

I was fortunate to work for a successful contractor that had more than a dozen divisions. Part of the success came from the different parts working together. In many companies the various divisions operate in their own ‘silos’ and are so compartmentalised that they seldom even talk to each other. In some companies, I thought it was so bad that divisions sent parts of their work to other companies instead of asking another division in the same company to do the work. Often these same companies had one division hiring personnel while another division was terminating staff.

So that as much work as possible can be done within the company, divisions should share resources and manage projects as much as possible.

It shouldn’t be about personal egos or how much money individual projects or divisions make, but rather about the success of the company as a whole.

We often put different parts of the company together to work on projects together. This way, each part could keep its own identity and still share in the project's profits and reputation. We also seconded resources to other divisions when we didn’t have work for them.

Managing safety

Senior management should be aware of safety, follow the safety rules, set a good example, and be careful not to let unsafe things happen when they are around. The company should have a clear safety policy and a set of procedures that should be followed on all projects, even if they are stricter than what the client wants.

At every management meeting, the first thing to talk about should be safety, and the statistics for all projects and the whole company should be talked about.

Good safety should be rewarded while poor safety should be corrected immediately. Safety is about changing the way all employees think and act so that they think and act in a safe way at work, on their way to and from work, and at home.

A culture of reporting and investigating accidents and incidents must be encouraged so that lessons can be learned to prevent further similar incidents. It's important that serious accidents and incidents are reported to the top people as soon as they happen. There's nothing worse than a client calling the contractor's upper management to complain about a serious accident or incident on their project that the Project Manager didn't report.

Tender systems

I’ve discussed tendering at length in a previous Module , however, I would add that when doing tenders, other than basic ones, consideration should be given to using a propriety tender system. Although these systems can be expensive to purchase, or hire, they not only save time and improve the accuracy of the tender process but they also provide other useful information, some of which can be included in the tender submission and some that can assist the Project Manager in running the project.

Documentation \sElectronic documentation is a wonderful asset because it can usually be rapidly retrieved and be accessed from remote locations. But it's important that all electronic documents are kept in one place and backed up in a second, secure place far away. I've had situations where managers' computers were stolen or broke down, and they lost important information. This made it hard for them to do their jobs and took many hours to get back.

Electronic document control systems should: 1. be easy to use; 2. work with software already in use; and 3. have enough space to store documents.

4. be password protected to protect sensitive information 5. be retrievable

6. be distributable

Insurances: Every business should have enough insurance, which should cover: 1. worker’s compensation

2. Liability for a third party

3. cover for vehicles, plant and equipment (check that external hired equipment is also covered where necessary) (check that external hired equipment is also covered where necessary)

4. insurance of the works

5. If design is involved, there should be professional indemnity insurance.

6. transit insurance for when expensive items and equipment are transported

It can be expensive if you don't have enough insurance. Also, make sure the premiums are paid on time, because if they aren't, the insurance won't work.

Most insurance policies are renewed every year, and it's a good idea to negotiate new premiums. When doing so, it's important to compare quotes from different insurers to make sure they offer enough coverage and that their "fine print" won't make any claims invalid. Depending on the risks it may be possible to negotiate lower premiums by accepting a larger excess or deductable amount.

It’s important to regularly review the company’s risks and exposures and to check that they are adequately covered by the insurances that are in place. The company can't have too little insurance or too much insurance. (If a company is underinsured, items may not be covered or will only be partially covered if there is a loss.) If a company is overinsured, it will pay insurance premiums for things that don't need to be covered. So, make sure to update your insurance policies often to reflect changes in your life, the growth of your business, and new equipment.

Before starting a new project, talk to your insurance broker to make sure that your current policies cover you well enough. Additional insurance may have to be bought to cover particular risks which are excluded from existing policies, such as fire or flood.

Check to see what the client's policies cover. You don't want to buy extra insurance for an event that the client is already covering. The client may also need extra insurance, or they may need insurance coverage for a higher value than what the company already offers. There may also be required insurances by law, which may be different between projects and regions.

Permits, licences and registrations

In order to operate in most regions, states and countries, companies may require a number of licences, permits, and registrations. If you need to, get legal advice before going into a new area to make sure your business has everything it needs.

Keep a record of all registrations to make sure they are all valid and to keep track of them. Keep in mind that many of the licences and registrations must be renewed every year.

For some of these permit conditions to stay in place, it may be necessary for certain employees to have a certain licence or qualification. So, it's important that these qualifications are kept up-to-date and that when employees leave, there are still enough qualified people to meet the requirements for registration.

Make sure you have copies of the registrations on hand. In foreign countries on remote sites, it may be necessary to keep copies of the registrations on the project site in case the local authorities do an inspection.

If these aren't in place, the contractor could be fined and the project could be stopped. This could lead to serious contractual issues and costs.


Clients usually want a bond or surety in place for the whole project, including the maintenance period, which is usually at least a year after the work is done. Most companies have limited facilities to obtain bonds and guarantees because these depend on the amount of security the company can provide. In many cases banks and insurance companies require the security to be a cash deposit, which ties up money, and impacts the company’s cash flow. When the company's guarantee facilities run out, they won't be able to get any more guarantees. Without more guarantees, the company won't be able to do any more projects.

Another thing is that guarantees cost money. The amount depends on how much the guarantee is worth and how long it is needed for. When guarantees aren’t returned on time additional fees are charged.

It’s vital that companies track all guarantees, ensuring that they are returned by clients as soon as practical so they can be given back to the bank, freeing up the facility for new guarantees. Companies need to finish projects as soon as possible so that they can get their guarantees back. Sometimes minor items aren’t completed, or the final documentation isn’t submitted, which prevents the client from issuing the completion certificate, thus delaying the release of the guarantee.

At the end of the maintenance period it’s equally important to request the client to prepare a final inspection defects list which the Project Manager needs to attend to as quickly as possible. This period often drags on needlessly because Project Managers forget to follow up with the client, or they take longer than necessary to complete the defects. In some cases Project Managers even forget to request the return of the guarantee.

Policies and procedures

All companies should have policies and procedures in place to cover amongst other issues:

1. industrial relations 2. safety management 3. quality management

4. environmental management

5. the use of company equipment 6. financial controls

7. sexual harassment

These will require updating as the company grows and as legal requirements change.

Of course it’s pointless if these policies aren’t available to all staff on all projects, because it’s important that employees understand and comply with them.

Operations manual

It’s useful in bigger companies to have an operations manual which includes the company’s policies and procedures. This manual can be used by all projects as a checklist to ensure that systems are applied uniformly and correctly. These manuals are particularly useful for new employees so that they can familiarise themselves with the company’s method of doing business.

These manuals need to be updated regularly to ensure they remain current.

Standardised stationery

The company should have a standardised set of stationery and letterheads that are used on all projects. The company logo should be replicated from a master template with the correct size, proportions and colours. I’ve often seen companies use logos of varying styles creating confusion amongst clients and even looking unprofessional.

Where possible prepare standard templates for: 1. daily diaries

2. subcontract orders 3. supplier orders

4. invoices

5. requests for information 6. drawing registers

7. drawing issue receipts 8. day-works records

9. site instructions or variation requests

Archiving documents

The following records should be kept and archived: 1. personnel records, including: \s1. records of pay and hours worked

2. disciplinary proceedings and warnings 3. employment contracts

4. medical reports

2. safety records including: \s1. accident reports and investigations 2. attendance records of inductions

3. the receipts of personal protective equipment 3. tender submissions

4. financial records including: 1. tax returns \s2. payments made and their receipts 3. payments received and invoices

5. plant and equipment service and repair records 6. project records including: \s1. correspondence to and from the client, the client’s management team, subcontractors and suppliers

2. the final account and all measurements 3. variants

4. subcontractor documentation 5. quality records \s6. drawings

Records must be stored where they won’t be damaged by heat, rain, fire, insects or rodents. They should be easily retrievable and filed in date order.

The statutory period for which records must be retained is generally five years, but will vary between states and countries.

Self-perform or subcontract

Companies need to decide what work they will undertake themselves and what work will be given to subcontractors. This will dictate the number of employees and the skills that will be required.

The decision on whether to subcontract the work or not, will depend on the following:

1. Can the contractor do the work more efficiently and cheaper than subcontractors?

2. Are subcontractors available to carry out the work?

3. Can the contractor recruit and retain the necessary skills for the work? 4. Will the contractor have continuity of work for these new employees?

5. Is the contractor able to purchase or hire the specialist equipment required for the work?

6. If equipment is purchased can it be used on other projects?

7. Some clients prefer using contractors who aren’t dependent on subcontractors.

8. Subcontractors may be unwilling to work in certain regions.

9. Using subcontractors moves the risk away from the contractor but the contractor has less control over the work.

There are often specialist tasks that companies will subcontract because there will not be sufficient continuity of work for the company to be able to maintain the resources.

As the company grows and moves in different directions and into different fields they may choose to alter the model of operation and either subcontract more work or undertake more themselves.

Whether work is subcontracted or undertaken by the company may also depend on the individual project and its contract requirement. Sometimes, it may also be advantageous to use local contractors.

Reporting of problems & problem solving

In many companies there’s a culture of hiding problems. This is often a result of managers blaming subordinates and implementing harsh measures against staff who may be responsible for the problem. It’s important to foster a spirit of openness and ensure people understand it’s not about blame, but rather about solving the problem, and being aware of a problem as soon as possible in order that mitigating measures can be implemented.

Of course where an individual has performed poorly, disregarded company policies and procedures or participated in fraudulent activities it will be necessary to institute the appropriate disciplinary procedures.

Regrettably many problems only come to light when it’s too late to solve or mitigate them – possibly jeopardising the survival of the company.

When things go wrong

Unfortunately no matter how well projects are planned, or how well the company is run, problems will arise. It’s essential that decisive action is taken to resolve the problem and prevent it from becoming more serious.

Contractors can be slow to solve a problem, fearful of incurring further costs. I’m not saying spend money at any cost, but often it’s the only way to move forward. Normally the first thing contractors do when there’s a financial problem on a project is cut costs, which inevitably means reducing personnel and equipment, in many cases making the problem worse.

When a problem occurs it’s important to find the root causes of the problem. Often problems are only investigated superficially and a cause is uncovered which might not be the true reason, but only a symptom of the problem, or, it may be only one of the causes. For instance, if a project is losing money and investigation finds that the labour is unproductive, it usually doesn’t help to simply reduce the number of workers, rather, it’s important to uncover the reason for this poor productivity which could be due to a number of causes, including poor management.

Clients should be informed when there’s a problem that affects them, and kept up to date with the steps being taken to resolve the situation. Clients appreciate the communication and some may even be able to help. Clients that find out about problems when it’s too late can be quite unforgiving. Contractors shouldn’t be too proud to ask for help from the client or even to approach other contractors, although this should be done only as a last resort.

Occasionally problems occur when key staff become ill, leave the company or have to deal with their own issues. Suitable replacements have to be found quickly without disrupting other projects or other departments. I’ve seen companies rob one project of personnel to solve another’s problem, only to end up with two problem contracts. Of course it’s sometimes possible to move people between projects and I’ve also seen individuals grow when faced with new challenges. The moral of the story is to ensure that careful consideration is made of the circumstances and people to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to solve the problem.

Ask for advice

There are too many components in the construction world for one person to know everything. If you are unsure of anything, ask for advice. Advice is often freely given, and you don’t have to take heed of it if you don’t like it.

Sometimes, there are people within the organisation who are more familiar with the subject matter than you. You may be surprised at the knowledge that some of your employees have, and anyway, they would probably appreciate being asked their opinion, even if the information isn’t utilised.

Other sources of information could be sales representatives, subcontractors, suppliers, trade associations and even the client and their representatives.

Of course, always consider where the advice comes from, since some people may have alternative agendas, or might not be as knowledgeable as they purport to be.

Use experts

It’s sometimes necessary to obtain expert advice for more complex problems. This may be as simple as obtaining accounting solutions, getting legal or contractual advice, or it may be for specialist solutions to complex construction problems. Usually the costs for these experts are far outweighed by the benefits of their help. For instance, although I have twenty years’ experience with concrete, I have, on a number of occasions, paid for experts to advise me, and their advice has often saved me thousands of dollars.

Mistakes must become lessons

Over the years, I’ve seen errors repeated time and again, often by the same Project Manager, but certainly within the company on other projects. It’s important to learn from mistakes so that they don’t occur again, enabling the company to improve its performance. Just as important is to learn from successes and to replicate them.

At the end of every project the project team should analyse the successes and failures and see how things could be done better in the future. This exercise shouldn’t be about pointing blame or looking for excuses. When the team has come up with the list of successes and failures, the reason for them and how things could be improved, it may be worth distributing the findings to other Project Managers, Head Office departments and managers. This may take the form of a simple memo or it could be a meeting where the issues can be discussed.

It’s also useful to ask the client for feedback at the end of the project. This could take the form of a standard questionnaire. Obviously any feedback is useless unless it’s actually analysed and the useful information is used.

Subcontractor and supplier performance data base

Good suppliers and subcontractors are often hard to find. Poor suppliers can delay projects by delivering material late or providing inferior materials. Substandard subcontractors delay projects, do work of poor quality, adversely affect the safety on a project and generally harm the contractor’s reputation. It’s therefore essential to look after good suppliers and subcontractors and ensure they are paid correctly and on time.

Contractors should keep a record and data base of all subcontractors and suppliers used. At the end of every project the Project Managers should rate them. Their performance should be assessed according to their:

1. quality of work \s2. performance measured against the contract schedule 3. safety \s4. responsiveness 5. price \s6. likelihood of submitting claims

Further comments could include recommendations on: 1. the type and size of project best suited to them

2. the subcontractor’s best team for future projects

These performance sheets must be collated into the data base which can be used by Estimators and Project Managers on future projects.

Be adaptive – adapt to changes in the environment

Construction is a changing environment and what’s suitable today may not be suitable in the future. In fact what’s suitable on one project might not be suitable on the next. Managers need to be able to adapt and change their approach between projects and with time. In fact, as the company grows so is it necessary for managers to change the way they do business.

Using technology

The implementation of new technology can often benefit the company, enabling it to be more efficient and productive. However:

1. the technology must be appropriate to the company and their projects and care should be taken implementing systems and technology that hasn’t specifically been developed or modified for the construction industry

2. the technology must have suitable local back-up and support for both maintenance and training \s3. it should be simple to use \s4. personnel must be trained in the efficient use of the systems

5. staff must be convinced of the suitability and safety of the systems 6. it must be reliable \s7. the new technology must improve the company’s operations, making it worthwhile to implement \s8. where necessary it must be able to integrate with existing systems and be compatible with the current popular software packages

9. the technology must be adaptable and flexible

10. the suppliers should be continuously evolving the system to keep up with technological improvements

11. if necessary it should be able to be expanded

12. the technology must be robust and able to work in remote and hostile environments

There are many different systems available and their prices vary enormously. Therefore, before deciding on a system it’s important to adequately research the various options, decide what you require from the system, look at where the company will be in a few years’ time (size, location and type of projects), and consider the pros and cons of each system and how they’ll best suit the needs of the company in the future.

Implementing new systems

As the company grows it will be necessary to implement new systems. Many of the systems implemented by companies end in failure because: \s1. a system is selected which may be either unsuitable or too complicated and time consuming to operate

2. managers haven’t convinced staff of the reasons and advantages of the new system

3. personnel haven’t been trained to use it

4. personnel are not given a chance to use the system immediately after the training meaning that they forget what they were shown \s5. personnel aren’t encouraged and supported to use the new system which means that they fall back on the old system

6. managers accept the continued use of the old system

Information Technology

Computers and systems must be adequately sized for the company. They must: \s1. not be slow \s2. have sufficient capacity to handle all of the company’s tasks 3. must allow for expansion

4. be supported by local technicians

5. support the software the company uses

6. be compatible with the available technology

Most projects use computers extensively and it’s important to ensure that staff have computers with sufficient capacity to meet the requirements of their duties. They may require specialised software, such as planning packages, which can be expensive, and should be managed to ensure that only products required for the particular project are loaded on their computers. Certain software packages can be helpful, and often their cost is far less than the benefits gained from using them.

It’s important to regularly review software licences. Often companies are paying for licences which individuals no longer require. Many software suppliers also take a dim view when their products are used without the correct licencing and permissions. Often, as companies grow and more people use the software, the company forgets to buy additional licences which could lead to them paying large penalties.

As the company grows it’s beneficial to link all staff to a computer network, which may even be linked to the various projects enabling faster communication and the sharing of documents. These networks can be expensive to establish but there can be cost savings as well as improved efficiencies.

Computers, and the computer networks, must be protected from viral attacks, and data must be regularly backed up to a remote storage facility.

There should be policies and procedures in place governing the use of company computers which all staff must be aware of.

Unauthorised usage of computers: 1. wastes time \s2. overloads and slows down the network 3. leads to computer viruses

4. may lead to inappropriate and sometimes even offensive use

Grand ideas

Sometimes managers and business owners have grand ideas about how to improve the company and increase profits. Sometimes these may be good but it’s important to ask the following:

1. Is it necessary?

2. Will it make money?

3. Does the company have suitable people to implement the idea? 4. Will the results be worth the effort?

5. Will it divert resources away from other areas in the company?

6. Is this really about the good of the company or is it about benefitting someone’s ego?

7. Is the time right?

8. Can it actually work or will it end up as a failure?

9. Can we improve on what we are doing, with similar results but less effort, by implementing something else?

Of course if the answer to most of these questions justifies implementing the idea then it’s important to explain to staff the reasons and steps required to implement the plan so that there’s buy in.

Always look at new systems and organisational structures with a critical eye and ensure that the company has considered all the pros and the cons, taking into account all the costs, the impact of implementing the changes, and more importantly look at existing systems and structures and understand why they haven’t worked or how they could be improved to maximise their benefits.

I’ve seen companies decide that a system, plan or division isn’t working, in some cases even losing money. In an attempt to rectify matters they implement wholesale change, often implementing completely new systems and processes. In many cases due consideration hasn't been given as to why the system failed and how to rectify the problem. Instead, everything is changed, which often includes things which were good, or had the potential to be good.

I’ve also seen companies spend money on hiring consultants, having seminars, strategy sessions and trying to reinvent themselves with new logos, vision statements and catch phrases. Many of these have ended up as a waste of money as plans implemented were often superficial and didn’t focus on the real problems of the company. In many cases staff wasn’t committed to the changes, the managers eventually ran out of steam and enthusiasm, and all the work was for nothing.

I’m not saying companies shouldn’t change. Of course they should. All

companies can improve on the way they do business. The change must however be well considered, focussing on matters that will really make a difference. Often only small changes can be easily implemented with dramatic positive results.

Problems often occur because companies fail to do the basics right. Therefore, always make certain that the first principles are carried out properly, such as: \s1. projects are delivered on time, meeting the correct specifications and quality requirements and that they are done safely

2. money due to the company is invoiced, and paid on time

3. projects operate efficiently and avoid wastage of materials, people and equipment

4. assets are looked after \s5. tenders are done correctly

6. good clients are looked after

Change can be good, but it needs to be implemented for the right reasons and properly, and it’s usually unnecessary to change something that isn’t broken. However, most systems and businesses can be improved, which might just require minor changes and adjustments.

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